Author(s): Hester Davenport
Drawing on Fanny Burney's letters and journals of the time, Hester Davenport explores the events of King George III's Court, and Burney's place within it. She became Keeper of the Robes to Queen Charlotte in 1786 and was witness to many dramas, such as the assassination attempt on the King in the same year. During her time at court she records the King's "madness" and recovery, alongside other events, such as the time the King goes for a dip at Weymouth, the birthday procession of Princess Amelia, and the day that the courtiers share tea, brown bread and clotted cream together at Saltram House in Devon. We also share Burney's own life, as she is cruelly jilted by the equerry Stephen Digby. Her fame was already established as a novelist. The anonymously published "Evelina" had been a sensation, especially when the young author's identity was revealed, and was admired by Dr Johnson and other leading figures of the day. Her depiction of her time spent at court illustrates her position as a pioneering woman writer and a valuable social commentator.